Doubts, Miracles and Spiritual Progress (Mark 6, 8)
Updated: Jun 15, 2021
Have you ever thought that if you could just witness an amazing miracle that your spiritual doubts would be erased? While we may think our confidence would grow by seeing a miracle, the miracle we’d see would still be interpreted and understood within our worldview our doubts.
Take the disciples for an example. They saw multiple amazing miracles, but that didn’t help, they were super slow to realize that Jesus was God.
In Mark 6, in a “desolate place” in Jewish territory the disciples are with Jesus and a huge crowd of hungry people. The disciples simply tell Jesus what to do. They say “Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat” (6:36). People have needs so send them home hungry. Wow, talk about a compassion fail. The implication is there’s nothing anyone (including Jesus) can do. Jesus then proceeds to feed 5,000 people with only five loaves and two fish. The point of the whole deal was for the disciples and the multitude to recognize that He is God, but somehow that conclusion slipped by unnoticed.
So, after seeing multiple miracles, after being sent out with power to do more miracles, and after not only seeing Jesus’ feed 5,000, but playing an active part in that miracle – they still had not learned that Jesus was God. Verse 52 explains that their collective mind was not open to that possibility, “for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened” (6:52).
Wow, so I guess witnessing amazing miracles is not always the answer for our doubts.
But wait, there’s more.
In Mark 8, Jesus and his disciples find themselves in another “desolate place” this time in Gentile territory with another huge crowd of hungry people. But this time instead of simply telling Jesus to send everyone home, the disciples ask Jesus a question; “How can anyone feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” (8:4). Now, it may not seem like much, but that tiny shift from telling Jesus what to do, to asking Jesus what could be done, represents spiritual progress.
I wonder how often we are guilty of “telling Jesus” what to do. When we pray, do we pray as though we are telling God what to do? (The Martha syndrome). Or can we thank Him that He is actively involved in the messes and tensions in our lives – that we are in the middle of a great work of His, even though we can’t see how out situation could turn out well. The disciples couldn’t see a path forward, so in ch. 6 they told him what to do, but in ch. 8 they asked him how the impossible could be possible. That’s progress!
How about we try that? When our path unexpectedly turns or we hit a dead end, let’s ask God what He has for us here, rather than telling him what to do.